Moments in Time: Pinned

Standing behind him as they went down the escalator, her eyes settled on the back seam of his trench coat.

“You fixed it,” she said.

He looked back at her, his expression tired and blank. His glance dipped down between his shoulders. “Oh, my coat. Yeah.”

He turned forward again. She resisted the urge to run her fingers along the seam. He’d ripped it a few weeks ago. Snagged it on a nail as he’d been running out to a client meeting. She’d fetched a safety pin from her purse and skillfully pinned it. Just one of the dozen different ways she looked out for him every day. Saving an occasional day. All the days piling up into weeks and months, working for him all these years. Standing behind and guarding his back from barbs and rips and other small disasters.

They reached her track.  “Goodnight,” she said.  “Enjoy your evening…”

“You too.” He smiled and patted her arm briefly before shoving his hand in his pocket and walking away down the concourse. She watched him go, as she had been doing for years, tenderly familiar with the back of his head. Comfortably resigned to his retreating presence.

Then he stopped.

He turned back to her, rubbing his brow, struggling with something. Slowly he came back, which he had never done before. He was reaching into his pocket, pulling out his wallet. She watched as he dug through bills and receipts, his thumb and index finger trawling deep into some recessed slot, and finally finding what he sought. His cupped hand reached to her, turned over, and there in his palm lay a single safety pin.

Her breath caught in her chest. A surge of emotion in her throat and a hot mist enveloping her eyes. She closed her mouth up in her glove, turned her lips in tight. Fought back against crying as she stared at that delicate, silvery oblong, glittering against the lines and ridges of his skin.

“It matters,” he said softly.  “Don’t… Don’t ever think it doesn’t matter to me.  It’s more important than you’ll ever know.  All right?”

She nodded fiercely into her palm, not daring to free her trembling mouth, not daring to look up at him, or she would come apart.

“It’s important to me,” he said. He closed up his fingers tight in a fist around the pin, and he laid that fist gently on her shoulder. She tilted her head, brushed her cheek against his wrist. He pulled her against him, the lapels of his trench coat folding beneath her face, and for one gorgeous moment he held her, his mouth warm against her hair.  She breathed in and ran her hand slowly along his upper arm. He squeezed the back of her neck. She replied by squeezing his elbow. Then they let each other go.

“I’ll keep it forever,” he whispered.

She smiled, filled with love for him. “Goodnight,” she said.